Title: Second Star
Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
1 StarYou'd think a novel set so very locally to me would instantly make it appealing. You'd think.
You'd think a novel with such a compelling blurb would call to me. It did. And boy, was I displeased.
I think I shall dissect that synopsis sentence by false sentence just for the fun of it.
"A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers."Was there love? No. Was there loss? Only if you count a loss of my precious time. Were there lies? Sure, but I don't see how this helps market the book. There was NO adventure, only whining about everything that can possibly be whined about.
Where did the dark magic even come from? How can something as mundane as drugs possibly be considered magic?
"Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas."Pete? Charismatic? I'm crying.
"Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete."Falling hard=insta-love.
"A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them."No. I will never, ever consider this novel to be capable of living up to the childhood classic we all love, Peter Pan (ahem-I never actually read the book in its entirety, but I watched the movies. That counts for something, right?). This is extremely loosely based on the actual story: the only similarities I can confirm are the names of Pete and Wendy and not much else.
I'm searching through the pages looking for even a hint of an exploration of the love-hate relationship between Jas and Pete. I've found nothing. Furthermore, I have no clue as to the meaning of "troubled beauty" and how it relates to this trivial story.
Once I began the novel, I was hit by the less-than-average writing. I was being drowned in passages I could care less about, so I skimmed a bit. The writing was dry and filled with sentences like, I walked. I showered. I was sad. In other words, there was too much telling.
Read this passage:
"I nod as I pull onto the freeway, turning on my blinker to change lanes. I've always preferred to stay in the right lane, to be ready to exit at any time. But now I pull into the middle then over to the left, pressing down on the gas."Where was the editor to strike down meaningless paragraphs like these?
Wendy Darling is, obviously, the narrator of Second Star. She is just finishing her senior year, and has been accepted to Stanford University. Anyone familiar with the selectiveness of Stanford would expect Wendy to be much smarter than she actually is.
This is the protagonist who follows a guy she doesn't know in the middle of the night. This is the girl who takes a drug although she is completely cognizant of its harm. This is the girl who feels jealous of ANY other female she feels is prettier than her.
She blushes, she stereotypes, she is a Goody-Two-shoes. She has the insta-love of two guys. She is a Mary Sue in its purest form.
People who have read this book and enjoyed it will argue that given her circumstances, her stupidity is excusable. But I find that very hard to swallow. If the author had meant to portray the qualities of a girl like her, why would she be romanticizing - almost condoning - her actions?
Moving on to Pete and Jas, otherwise known as Peter and Hook, respectively. Both of these characters were faded versions of the original; they were stale, emotionless, lifeless underlings. In essence, they are like what the generic brand is to the brand name - mere imitators, failing in terms of quality.
And what's a teen romance without the stereotypical blond meanie? Admittedly she redeems herself by the end, but for a bulk of the novel she is the recipient of the protagonist's envy and hate and a way for Wendy to feel good about herself. The girl-on-girl hate isn't as severe as other young adult novels, but the trope is still present.
Yet what is most inadequate about Second Star is the sheer lack of development-of relationships, of characters, of conflict. The novel barely brushes the subjects it claims to delve into, falling short on most everything. The author could have explored the relationship between the characters, instead of ending it so abruptly. This underdevelopment is the worst fault of Second Star and led to the failure of me not being emotionally invested.
That's not to say that this book actually has potential, though.